Last week, Gerard Agency hosted our first-ever social media workshop, wittily dubbed “Social Work.” We invited a handful of our clients and presented on a cross-section of topics related to social media management for brands. Topics included qualities of effective content creators, social video through the business lens, how to use paid promotion to maximize reach and social employee advocacy strategies that get results. Kudos to Brannon SmithMark Manzo and Tony Ballinger for joining me in presenting these inspired sessions.

Attendees included a diverse group ranging from sales reps to multi-person marketing teams. The group was B2B heavy, but also included one B2C healthcare organization. This varied group had questions that probably plague many marketing and brand social media teams, but they may not have had a previous opportunity to get them answered.

So what were the burning questions that these marketers had?

  • How frequently should we post (on different channels)?
  • Should we incorporate commercials into social?
  • How do we get our audience to read what we publish?
  • Where do we find good content to curate?
  • What tips do you have for creating a content calendar?
  • What are the pros/cons of publishing native video vs. using a third party?

 

HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD WE POST ON DIFFERENT CHANNELS?

While there is no perfect one-size fits all answer to this question, there are generally accepted “ideals.” There are a few caveats to this.

First, in reality this depends on what your social team can accommodate. Some organizations have large marketing teams, with several team members dedicated to social; other organizations have a one-person marketing department; other organizations have a lean and mean team, and outsource social to an agency. So what is reasonable to strive for would be quite different in each of these scenarios.

Second, this begs the question of which channels are a good fit for the brand to begin with. Too many brands are guilty of “shiny object syndrome,” whereby they try many new social options only to later discover that many options are not a good fit, but leave their team spread too thin to keep up a post frequency on too many different channels.

The race to keep up a post frequency brings to mind the debate about whether it makes sense to be obligated to keep up a post frequency just to check a box. Posting really should be about quality over quantity. If your brand consistently posts empty content, you will inevitably lose valuable followers. Please resist the urge to post just to say you did. Instead, spend the time to craft a rich and relevant collection of curation sources and curate to your heart’s content.

With these caveats in mind, below are intentionally vague perfect-world posting recommendations:

Facebook: Once per day

Twitter: Up to five times per day

LinkedIn: One – several times per week

Instagram: Once per day

Snapchat: One – several times per day

 

SHOULD WE INCORPORATE COMMERCIALS INTO SOCIAL?

Yes, but rework campaign assets for social. What works for other media rarely works for social, so rework visual assets and video alike with stiff news feed competition in mind. Also, bear in mind the 20% rule. Less is almost always more when it comes to social. For instance, a 30-second spot could be edited into a 15-second or less version. What you want is a visual that will stop folks in their tracks as they scroll through their news feed. Something that looks like a print ad will rarely do that.

 

HOW DO WE GET OUR AUDIENCE TO READ WHAT WE PUBLISH?

For starters, you should write with your buyers’ personas in mind, so write user-centered content that appeals to your audience. This could be a perspective piece on current buzz in your industry, tactical how-to content or a storytelling-focused case study. Again, less is more. Three hundred words is considered by many to be an ideal blog length, thanks to short attention spans resulting from news feed overload.

Next, always post content to personal channels of whoever has the by-line. A person’s network is going to be most engaged with his or her own content and area of expertise. In addition, there is typically little overlap between followers of employees and followers of corporate channels, so if you don’t enlist employees to share content, your brand is missing a tremendous opportunity. That doesn’t mean that you can’t republish the content to brand channels, but start with the source.

Last but not least, promote it. Social channels today offer the phenomenally granular ability to target, so take advantage of targeting.

 

WHERE DO WE FIND GOOD CONTENT TO CURATE?

Time spent crafting a solid curation source library is time well spent. This should include trade publications, noncompetitive industry experts, relevant news outlets, academic journals, government publications, partner organizations and even clients. The exact mix will depend on the nuances of your business.

If you’re at a loss on where to start, this is a great opportunity to get some quality time with your audience. Interview a few clients and prospective clients and find out what channels they follow and the type of content they enjoy. Develop an informal advisory group to keep tabs on for inspiration and even user-generated content. Aside from lending an authentic voice, authorship is ownership — guest contributors will bring their own following to content published on your channels.

 

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR CREATING A CONTENT CALENDAR?

First, always use a content calendar. Brands that “go commando” and publish content on an “as it presents itself” basis are bound to overlook important topics, personas, events and more. Being guided by a content calendar helps ensure even distribution of content coverage. It also helps you regularly continue to promote evergreen content.

Which brings me to a secondary question that was asked in the workshop — Is it ok to publish the same content more than once? The answer is not only “absolutely,” but also “you must.” If you invest the time to write great content and only promote it once, you are dramatically reducing the return on that content creation’s investment. Write several social posts to promote the same content and promote the content again and again for months (and sometimes years) after the content was originally published.

If content is still getting traffic more than a year after it was originally published, give it an update to keep it current, and republish it and continue to promote it. Also be sure to publish it to both employee and brand channels. To further leverage great content, it can often be published on internal channels and events pitched as guest-authored content to other channels, both branded and media.

Design the content calendar to ensure even coverage of topics as well as authored versus curated content. This strategic approach will also help balance different types of content. Be sure to include a rotation of content types: blog posts, infographics, eBooks, event recaps, videos, employee interviews, client profiles, expert interviews and more. Including diverse types of content will not only keep it interesting but will also maximize the ability to resonate with different audiences. Some people prefer copy while others prefer video. For example, many folks in today’s open office environments may not be able to listen to the accompanying audio with video, so pass on video content.

 

WHAT ARE THE PROS/CONS OF PUBLISHING NATIVE VIDEO VS. USING A THIRD PARTY?

While today’s technology has largely overcome browser-specific challenges to playing video, there are other considerations. Many organizations still block many social channels, which can mean that YouTube may not be accessible. Of course, chances are that if YouTube is blocked, other social channels where it might be published are blocked too. This question was asked in the context of emailing links to video, so the argument about other social channels being blocked is not relevant in that case.

Nonetheless, this question brings up an important point specifically for social. Natively posted video content gets optimal newsfeed placement compared to posts with third-party video, which would take them away from your social channels.

Were the questions here ones that you have found yourself pondering? What other questions do you have that you would like answered? Please comment below and I’ll be happy to address any new questions.

If you are local to Chicago and are interested in joining future workshops, please let us know; we’ll be sure to include you!